Some idiot shot and killed a Florida panther, apparently.
This according to authorities at the Cypress National Preserve in Collier County, where the dead panther was found.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says they found the animal dead from a gunshot wound on Saturday in the Turner River Unit of Big Cypress. Florida panthers are among the most endangered species in the United States.
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Wildlife officials say that only 100 to 150 Florida panthers remain and are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
While officials have been doing everything they can to preserve the animals, even bringing in Texas pumas to mate with Florida panthers, 2012 saw a record year in panther deaths.
In all, 26 panthers were found dead last year, the most since the FWC began keeping track of the numbers. The previous high -- 25 -- was hit twice, in 2007 and 2009.
Loss of habitat, being roadkill, and other factors have mostly led to the dwindling of the cats over the years. But thanks to the special Florida panther license plates -- which helped bring awareness to the situation -- and officials coming up with the idea of bringing some lady Texas pumas over to hit it off with our male panthers, things are looking good for an animal that might have otherwise been history.
And then some idiot comes along with a gun and straight up murders one of them.
"This is a serious incident, and we are asking the public to assist us with discovering details related to this incident," Big Cypress National Preserve Superintendent Pedro Ramos said.
The maximum sentence for the unlawful taking of a Florida panther is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The National Park Service is asking anyone with information about the panther's death to contact investigators at 800-788-0511.